Apples on a leafless apple tree, November 2004

Above: Apples against a blue sky, November 2004

Garden diary: October

18 November 2003 - the garden in late autumn

The garden is covered with the fallen leaves from the apple, cherry and rowan trees. The cherry tree's leaves carpeted Woodland Corner with golden yellow, brightening the gloom of November days. I've been collecting up the leaves that have fallen into the small garden pond, where at least three frogs still emerge at the shallow pond edges after dark. One looked like it had grown a lot. I wondered how big they get. Last night, during a troubled and fitful night's sleep, I dreamt of enormous frogs the size of cats emerging from the pond.

The troubled night's sleep was the result of the stresses of bathroom refurbishment, currently taking place here at home. At one stage, with the electricity off (no computer to work on) and the water off (no cups of tea to drink) I attempted to distract myself by doing some gardening. Rather half-hearted, I admit, as inspiration was lacking. I need inspiration as I'm wanting to move lots of plants to different areas. I wanted to do this early so I didn't disturb bulbs that were beginning to grow. I managed to locate most of the alliums without chopping the bulbs in half, and carefully dug them up. I then put them into a bucket, covered them in compost, intending to replant them, but forgot about this intention and have only just remembered, while writing this. I'm not sure where I put them. They're probably out there in the shed behind the big heap of miscellaneous rubbish from the bathroom work.

The plumber did arrange the plumbing so that the waste pipes didn't have to be fitted around the outside wall where my beautiful climbing rose has been carefully trained to surround the bathroom windows.

So, below the climbing rose, the old bath sits in the garden, filling up with fallen leaves. It's not a beautiful thing, but it is made of steel. I agonised over what to do with this bath, after hearing that the usual way of dealing with them when they're being taken out of a bathroom is to smash them to bits with a big hammer. It was suggested that I could put it into the garden instead and plant things in it. Smashing it up into pieces sounded wasteful. As this was going to happen while the bath was still in the house, it also sounded incredibly noisy. So I went for the "put it in the garden and think about it later" option.

I'm not sure I really want a bath in my garden, and am struggling to find a location big enough to site it so that it isn't too obvious. In my mother's garden the old steel bath was sunk into the ground by my stepfather who made it into a pond. The idea of digging another hole out there, big enough to fit a whole bath into, doesn't really appeal at this point in time.

Still flowering

Aside from problematic ironmongery, there are still plants in the garden, most fading gracefully in the late autumn dampness. Still, though, the dahlia - Bishop of Llandaff - retains a few flowers. It has flowered for so many months now I've lost count. Other dahlias too still produce one or two blooms. There's been no frost severe enough to touch them.

A nice unplanned combination is the berries of a yellow-flowered pyracantha against the bluish berries of an evergreen viburnum. The viburnum carries flowers at this time of year, alongside its berries.

Mahonia "Charity" is forming a most impressive head of flower, wonderfully dramatic as it grows and reaches upward, tightly packed in bud, just unfurling from the bottom. Still only one flowerhead, as it's only a small plant as yet.

Most impressive of all is the Solanum jasminoides "Album". This climber has escaped from the trellis-topped wall in Woodland Corner and rampaged up into the Morello cherry tree branches. It's only now that the leaves have fallen from that tree that the full extent of its growth is clear. It's almost to the top of the tree, and still covered in its white flowers.

Back to November highlights and diaries


Berries - pyracantha and viburnum

Above: Berries of pyracantha and Viburnum tinus 'Gwenllian'.

Garden diary: December